Statement from the Green Party of NY on “Open” Primaries Lawsuit and Need for Democratic Reform

New York - The Green Party of New York (GPNY) has issued the below statement in response to frustrated voters calling for "open" primaries in the state of New York, and the recent lawsuit filed to that effect. GPNY will not participate in the April 19th Primary Election for president, and instead New York Greens will vote for the Green Party's 2016 presidential nominee at a June 11 state nominating convention in Troy, NY (with a mail-in ballot available for Greens who cannot attend). The Green Party of the United States national convention will take place in Houston, TX from August 4-7. The winner of the GPUS nomination will appear on the November 8 General Election ballot for all New York voters.


We are not surprised by reports of would-be voters in tomorrow's presidential primary discovering that they do not, in fact, belong to the party to which they registered. Many of our members experienced similar frustrations when attempting to register Green.

But the solution to this and other threats to democracy in New York is not so-called "open" primaries, as proposed in a newly-announced lawsuit , but comprehensive voting reforms to support multiparty democracy and a board of elections that operates free from partisan control.

"Open" primaries funnel unaffiliated voters into the corrupt, undemocratic duopoly parties instead of building the grassroots parties we so desperately need. And in a "fusion" voting state like New York, with the odious "Opportunity to Ballot" provision that can force parties to cross-endorse non-members, "open" primaries could obliterate the progress of third parties by flooding them with non-members intent on backing duopoly candidates.

"Open" primaries only serve the short-term interests of unaffiliated voters at the expense of party members who spend time and energy building a fighting organization with a coherent platform and agenda. Should someone who is not a member of a union be allowed to vote for who will be the president of that union? Of course not: a fundamental element of the right to freely assemble is the ability to set reasonable criteria to establish who is a member and who is not.

GPNY welcomes allies from all parties and perspectives in the fight for truly democratic reforms such as:

  • End partisan control of the Board of Elections and institute rigorous transparency to banish the patronage, unprofessionalism and incompetence resulting from the current system

  • Same-day voter registration for general elections and eventually move to a more European-style system where citizens of age are automatically registered to vote by default, instead of "opt-in" registration.

  • Move the deadline for party affiliation changes to at least 90 days before the first primary election of the year

  • Eliminate gerrymandering, which allows single-party domination of districts and makes general elections seem perfunctory, by instituting an independent redistricting commission

  • Proportional representation to end the disenfranchisement of voters who support third parties and independent candidates in general elections

  • Eliminate the "Opportunity to Ballot" rule and reform "fusion" voting so that candidates are not incentivised to put their name on as many ballot lines as possible in every election

You want reform? So do we. We must work together to institute real reforms that allow grassroots, democratically-run parties to grow without interference.

Alongside this we need a system of full public campaign financing for candidates at the local, state and federal levels modeled on those of Maine and Arizona. The real impetus for corruption arises when campaign donors are able to influence government through the system of legalized bribery that is our campaign finance laws. Creating a system where candidates have no need to solicit those bribes in the first place would move us far closer to cleaning up Albany than any of the so-called reforms have done to this point," concluded Peter LaVenia, state party co-chair.

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2016

Green Party of New York


Michael O'Neil | Green Party of NY Staff | 917-825-3562 | [email protected]
Gloria Mattera | Green Party of NY Co-Chair | 917-886-4538 | [email protected]